On a very broad level, it is becoming increasingly understood that consuming a more plant-based diet is conducive to reducing the risk of the chronic diseases that kill most of us. In Japan, however, the average life expectancy is nearly 84 years of age, markedly different than the USA and noticeably higher than Canada as well. But what you may not know is that, up until recently, there was a particular island region of the country Okinawa that actually had life spans above the Japanese national average. Before that though, here are some very interesting facts about the traditional diets of the people of Okinawa. What did they do differently in Okinawa? As you can see in the rendition of the Okinawan dietary pattern below, the people of Okinawa also value legume intake very highly as well. Purple sweet potatoes and legumes share important similarities including. Sweet potatoes contain a lot of the nutrients that the average person needs more of.
Kuakini Street, Honolulu HI. The traditional diet in Okinawa is anchored by root vegetables principally sweet potatoes, green and yellow vegetables, soybean-based foods, and medicinal plants. Marine foods, lean meats, fruit, medicinal garnishes and spices, tea, alcohol are also moderately consumed. Many characteristics of the traditional Okinawan diet are shared with other healthy dietary patterns, including the traditional Mediterranean diet, DASH diet, and Portfolio diet. All these dietary patterns are associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, among other age-associated diseases. The healthy fat intake is likely one mechanism for reducing inflammation, optimizing cholesterol, and other risk factors. Additionally, the lower caloric density of plant-rich diets results in lower caloric intake with concomitant high intake of phytonutrients and antioxidants. Other shared features include low glycemic load, less inflammation and oxidative stress, and potential modulation of aging-related biological pathways.
Among many other things, just down the southern coast of this great country lives a tribe of people that is famous for two peculiar things. Firstly, they are well-known for their mystical longevity and secondly for all the nutritious foods which comprise their typical daily menu that unfailingly keeps the health of Okinawans up and running. As humans, growth is a process that starts right from the moment we were conceived in the womb and as we keep growing, we get to a point where we start to age. Aging is a phenomenon that none of us can escape, even though the speed at which it occurs is not the same for everyone. Several factors, such as genetics, day to day practices, and very importantly, the type of food that we consume, play a paramount role in our aging process. As people grow older, they run into a lot of issues that start ganging up on them once they hit a certain age. There are a few people and places on earth where aging comes with less trouble than most other parts of the world. According to the CIA factbook, Japan is one of the few places with the highest life expectancy rate. The Okinawans live in one of the five places on earth that are referred to as Blue zones. Blue zone is just a word used to refer to some places with a high density of people living above one hundred years of age 4.